NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 23 – Persons living with disabilities in the country are demanding the right to participate in the decision-making and management of political parties.
Rockefeller Odhiambo, who is seeking to be a Member of the Homa Bay County Assembly faulted political parties for failing to provide a level playing field.
Odhiambo who was speaking during a National Experience Sharing Forum for Candidates with Disabilities described party nominations as a mere formality after it became evident that most of the political parties had their pre-determined candidates.
“The parties have not done enough to come up with clear rules of PWDs participation. I believe we should be given a head start in any elective post. Quite frankly I feel all these stakeholders are majoring too much on the youth and women and they are saying too little about PWDs,” Odhiambo said as he presented insights of the PWD aspirants during the party nominations held in May.
Odhiambo also mentioned lack of finances and a reluctance by security agencies and the IEBC to enforce guidelines as among the factors limiting them from carrying out more effective campaigns.
The aspirant who is making his debut in politics said he was grateful that his Orange Democratic Movement Party had made provision for him and allocated him a platform to sell his policies during its political rallies in Homa Bay.
“I was given a podium where I could express myself and people got to know me and that is a plus. We demonstrated that PWDs can do it better than even the able-bodied ones.”
United Disabled Person of Kenya Chief Executive Anderson Kiraithe urged political parties to adopt affirmative action and ensure at least five percent of their nominees in the party lists must be a person living with a disability.
“Persons with disabilities have been long been excluded from development mainstreaming following unfavourable laws in the past. Following the adoption of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, today Persons with disabilities are now able to articulate their rights, and hold their duty bearers accountable.”
“UPDK being the voice of persons with disabilities call upon all the political parties to abide by the law and ensure that the 5pc affirmative action is upheld in the nominations,” he stated.
The National Gender and Equality Commission CEO Paul Kuria on his part said they are in support of amendments to the Political Parties Act that would allow the Registrar of Political Parties to reject the registration a political party whose membership is not representative of women, youth and people living with disabilities.
“She is talking about even new amendments to ensure that the political parties must have an inclusion agenda in the membership, that is a step forward. These are very pronouncement measures”
“We begin with women where we have quotas (33per cent), PWDs where you have the quota of (5 per cent) for youth there is no quota so even putting those targets really is commendable. Youths are participating in the politics of the day more than ever before because the politics of the day has also taken a different shape of reaching out and selling their agenda through the social platform where the majority of youths are,” Kuria stressed.
The NGEC appealed to the IEBC to improve access to polling stations which are mostly in primary schools citing they are inaccessible for those with mobility challenges.
“We have requested IEBC to put in place temporary measures to ease access to the polling stations for PWDs on the General Election Day even though we know some enforcement on building environment should have happened.”
“In 2013 there were braille ballot papers but there lacked proper infrastructure to use them. We requested IEBC to consider these provisions,” he said.